Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Oh Variance

Don't ever underestimate the amount of variance in poker. And further don't underestimate the affect variance can have on your game and mental attitude. If you asked me four weeks ago how I was playing, I might have told you as good or better than anyone in the world. Ask me now and I'm not sure I'm playing better than at least twenty-five of the regulars in my games.

The only thing that's changed is that I've gone through a 400 BB downswing, a 300 BB downswing, and a few 100-200 BB downswings all in the span of 70K hands. There is a serious negative mental impact this has, I start questioning a lot of the things I'm doing and my mind starts playing tricks on me. For example, it becomes a lot more difficult to make a thin river value bet on a scary river card when you've been raised the last nine out of ten times in that situation. I've read that the human brain is conditioned to believe an outcome is likely after it's seen it happen two or three times. This is an evolutionary trait and obviously has a lot of value in the real world, just not when you're playing poker. At that point, you have different parts of the brain conflicting with each other about what the best decision is and when making split decisions for hours at a time, it's easy to choose the wrong one. It's a subtle form of tilt I suppose.

That's just one of many examples.

I've said it before and I'll say it again (and will probably keep saying it), what separates the good players from the great players is being able to maintain your composure and play your A game even when nothing is going right. I think I do a good job of it compared to most but I have a whole lot of room for improvement as well.

I've got about two weeks to go and am up to 915K VPPs or so. I need to get more focused at the tables and bring my A game. I'm not leaving Canada with any regrets about the way I played. I've been really burnt out and unfocused this month. In a strange way this losing streak has been helpful. It's jolted me awake and reminded me that I do actually have to give 100% effort and think through all of my decisions.


  1. Man you are a master! Just last night i see how you are killing some fishes!

  2. good luck down the stretch, must feel good to know you're almost there.

  3. You say never ever do it but with presumably no other real commitments is it not worth it for the massive $, which you can enjoy later in life when it won't be possible to make so much this way? I'm not sure either way, but I'm not about to attempt 70 hr weeks.

    Unlucky with the bad run, that would ruin many a small volume pro.